Béla Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle

Béla Bartók Bluebeard’s Castle
Bluebeard’s Castle

Béla Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle

Opus:
op. 11
Year of composition:
1911
Subtitle:
Opera in 1 act
Version:
final version 1921
Composer:
Béla Bartók
Text source:
based on the theatre fairytale "Ariane et Barbe-Bleue" (Maurice Maeterlinck)
Text adapter:
Helmut Wagner (1963); Karl Heinz Füssl (1963)
Translator:
Michael Dimi Calvocoressi; Christopher Hassall; Wilhelm Ziegler
Librettist:
Béla Balázs
Miscellaneous:
Michael Dimi Calvocoressi
Roles:
Herzog Blaubart, baritone Judith, mezzo-soprano Die früheren Frauen, silent Prolog, speaking part
Instrumentation:
4 3 3 4 - 4 4 4 1 - timp(2), perc(3), hp(2), cel, org, str - stage music: tpt(4), alto tbn(4)
Instrumentation details:
1st flute
2nd flute
3rd flute (+picc)
4th flute (+picc)
1st oboe
2nd oboe
cor anglais
1st clarinet in Bb (+cl(Eb)
cl(A))
2nd clarinet in Bb (+cl(Eb)
cl(A))
3rd clarinet in Bb (+cl(A)
bass cl(A)
bass cl(Bb))
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
3rd bassoon
4th bassoon (+cbsn)
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
3rd horn in F
4th horn in F
1st trumpet in Bb
2nd trumpet in Bb
3rd trumpet in Bb
4th trumpet in Bb
1st trombone
2nd trombone
3rd trombone
4th trombone
bass tuba
timpani(2)
percussion(3)
1st harp
2nd harp
celesta
organ
violin I(16)
violin II(16)
viola(12)
violoncello(8)
contrabass(8) - stage music: 1st trumpet in C
2nd trumpet in C
3rd trumpet in C
4th trumpet in C
1st alto trombone
2nd alto trombone
3rd alto trombone
4th alto trombone;
Table of contents:
Herzog Blaubarts Burg / Bluebeard’s Castle
Scenery:
1
Remarks:
Distribution for the USA: Boosey & Hawkes, New York.
Duration:
60’
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Audiosamples

Bluebeard’s Castle
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The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

Béla Balázs actually intended the poem for Zoltán Kodály, but Béla Bartók had already read it in 1910, the year it was written. It left an indelible impression on him; the symbolic text gave him the opportunity to bring together in music almost all the problems, crises and doubts of his life so far.

Brought about by his readings of Nietzsche, Bartók felt at the time that he was living in a kind of limbo, hovering over the earth, detached from everyday life, a state which was compacting into fatal loneliness.

He submitted his one-act work to the Budapest opera competition in 1911 […]; the jury […] rejected it, declaring it was unplayable. The composer reworked it in 1912 (probably on the advice of Zoltán Kodály), and then again several times after that; the definitive design of the close cost him much effort […]

The first performance took place seven years after the initial version was finished, and not before the successful premiere of his second work for the stage, The Wooden Prince, in 1917.

The source of Balázs’ text, the Bluebeard legend, had existed in differing versions since the last decade of the 17th century in the European literature. Balázs himself called his poem a Mystery, declaring in the prologue that the scene of the events was the human soul; instead of a prologue, Bartók composed a four-part orchestral prelude reminiscent of a Hungarian folk song, to introduce the ballad-like atmosphere and to close the framework in the opera’s final bars. Within that frame, the work consists of a prelude and seven scenes; the symbolical setting, Duke Bluebeard’s castle, is actually the male soul, while the castle’s seven doors each correspond to a part of the psyche, a male particularity, a part of male life. The characters are likewise symbolic, the duke being Man and Judith Woman per se.

From © György Kroó, Bartók-Handbuch, Universal Edition, Vienna, 1974

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Special prints

Bluebeard’s Castle

Béla Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle

full score
, 60’
Instr.: 4 3 3 4 - 4 4 4 1 - timp(2), perc(3), hp(2), cel, org, str - stage music: tpt(4), alto tbn(4)

Bluebeard’s Castle

Béla Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle

piano reduction
, 60’
Instr.: 4 3 3 4 - 4 4 4 1 - timp(2), perc(3), hp(2), cel, org, str - stage music: tpt(4), alto tbn(4)

Bluebeard’s Castle

Béla Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle

full score
, 60’
Instr.: 4 3 3 4 - 4 4 4 1 - timp(2), perc(3), hp(2), cel, org, str - stage music: tpt(4), alto tbn(4)

Next performances

22 Dec

Bluebeard’s Castle

Großes Haus, Würzburg (DE)

25 Dec

Bluebeard’s Castle

Großes Haus, Würzburg (DE)

05 Jan

Bluebeard’s Castle

Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (GB)

06 Jan

Bluebeard’s Castle

Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham (GB)

07 Jan

Bluebeard’s Castle

Barbican, London (GB)

World première

Location:
Budapest
Date:
24.05.1918
Conductor:
Egisto Tango

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